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In brief

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 27 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:828

US Medicare panel fails to find solution: President Clinton's Medicare commission was disbanded last week without endorsing any recommendations to avert a financial crisis in the programme which provides health insurance for 39 million elderly or disabled Americans. President Clinton said he would put his own proposals to Congress.

Spain compensates cooking oil victims: The Spanish government has approved a compensation package worth up to £1.7bn ($2.7bn) for 17500 people affected by contaminated cooking oil. In 1981 rapeseed oil was contaminated by aniline and introduced into the food chain. About 500 people died as a result.

Jack Kevorkian faces trial: Dr Jack Kevorkian, the retired US pathologist who says that he has helped over 130 terminally ill patients to die, has gone on trial in Michigan accused of murdering a man with a paralysing disease. A film of Kevorkian injecting a lethal chemical into Thomas Youk was seen by millions of Americans on television.

French minister found guilty in blood scandal: Former French health secretary Edmond Hervé has been found guilty of negligence for not following up on blood screening procedures in the case of one patient, and for failing to recall and warn a woman that she had received blood contaminated with HIV; she later had a child who died of AIDS. In the mid-1980s hundreds of people died after receiving transfusions of blood contaminated with HIV.

Case of disgraced UK obstetrician leads to inquiry: The UK health secretary has set up an independent inquiry into why the poor clinical performance of Mr Rodney Ledward, the Kent obstetrician who was struck off by the General Medical Council last year, was not picked up and dealt with earlier. The inquiry, which will be chaired by Jean Ritchie QC, will be in private, although its report will be published.

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